Muscular dystrophy has affected more than 500,000 Americans. Besides eventual immobility, it can negatively impact the most vital organs in the human body as it progresses. Keep reading to learn more about muscular dystrophy and the nine different types of muscle-inhibiting disease.
Discover 9 Types Of Muscular Dystrophy & How They Affect Our Day-To-Day Activities
What Is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is a term to describe a group of around 30 inherited diseases that gradually impair muscles.
Since it’s a progressive condition, muscles will get weaker to the point where the patient won’t be able to move well or may even lose the ability to perform self-care tasks like brushing their teeth. The disease also has the potential to affect your lungs and heart negatively.
The muscle-inhibiting disease is considered rare. Even though it’s mostly diagnosed during childhood, doctors have revealed that it can occur at any time and any age, in both men and women.
Causes & Symptoms Of Muscular Dystrophy
In muscle dystrophy, a mutated gene inhibits the production of a protein called dystrophin. Dystrophin is particularly necessary for healthy muscle formation. So when dystrophin deficiencies happen, your body may not make enough dystrophin or none, eventually resulting in muscular dystrophy since the protein plays a crucial role in muscle contraction and coordination. Despite being hereditary, some people with the mutated gene don’t develop muscular dystrophy.
The symptoms of muscular dystrophy may include:
- Muscle weakness (most common)
- Muscle spasm
- Breathing difficulties
- Difficulties climbing stairs, getting up, running, jumping, etc
- Troubles swallowing
- Scoliosis (curved spine)
- Frequent fall down
- Face muscle weakness
- Enlarged calf muscles
- Loose or stiff joints
- Heart problems (arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy)
- Lung problems
- Vision problems
Types Of Muscular Dystrophy
As mentioned above, it’s estimated that there are more than 30 types of muscular dystrophy involving progressive disability, loss of strength, and even deformity. The list below contains nine different types of muscular dystrophy.
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD): DMD is the most common among several types of muscular dystrophy. DMD is diagnosed during childhood and can progress quickly, resulting in immobility by the age of 12. Although most often boys are affected by DMD, it can affect girls, too. In most cases, patients will encounter breathing problems due to scoliosis, which later require a respirator to breathe.
- Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD): After DMD, BMD is the second most common muscular dystrophy. Unlike DMD, the progression of BMD tends to be slower, and its symptoms can show up anywhere between age 5 and 60. For boys, BMD can be diagnosed between the ages of 11 and 25. With BMD, patients may develop muscle weakness in the hips, pelvis, thighs, and shoulders.
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD): Also known as Landouzy-Dejerine disease, FSHD primarily affects facial muscles (around the eye and mouth areas) and upper-body muscles (shoulder blades and upper arms). Both male and female adults can get this type of muscular dystrophy. FSHD in men usually appears before the age of 20, but women may not develop the condition until 40.
- Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD): MMD can equally affect male and female adults. This muscular dystrophy type causes muscle relaxation difficulties, hand and wrist weakness, GI problems, and cataracts. Generally, MMD patients will experience abnormal heartbeat as the condition progresses. In some cases, patients with MMD may develop diabetes and thyroid problems.
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OMD): This rare type of muscular dystrophy causes muscle weakness in the eyelids and throat, resulting in dysphagia and ptosis. It can also weaken vision and usually appear in people ages 40 to 50.
- Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy (EDMD): Mostly found in boys and young men, EDMD is a type of muscular dystrophy that weakens shoulders, shins, and upper arms, which severely limits the movement of people with this muscular disorder. Sometimes, decreased spine flexibility also occurs. As the disease progresses until age 30, patients may need surgical interventions to keep their hearts working correctly.
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD): LGMD is one of the types of muscular dystrophy that can affect all ages, starting from as young as age 2 to as old as age 40. In this type of muscular dystrophy, people may face difficulties climbing stairs, walking, or running due to weakened muscles of the upper legs, upper arms, hips, and shoulders. Gradually, people with LGMD may end up relying on wheelchairs.
- Distal Muscular Dystrophy (DMD): Women and men between the ages of 40 and 60 start to experience weakened muscles in their hands, lower arms, feet, and lower legs. Distal muscular dystrophy is milder than other types of muscular dystrophy since it only affects a few muscles with a slower progression.
- Congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD): CMD typically begins at birth or early infancy and causes weakening of the muscles of the neck, upper legs, upper arms, and lungs. The brain, heart, and spine can be affected, too. Parents often notice that their children may have difficulties sitting and standing and poor motor control. Children with CMD may also develop respiratory problems, speech problems, and vision problems.
How To Treat Muscular Dystrophy?
So far, there’s no cure for different types of muscular dystrophy. Nonetheless, a combination of medication, procedures, and muscle therapies can make a significant change and delay the progression accordingly. Your doctor will suggest an appropriate treatment plan based on the type of muscular dystrophy you have.
- Medications: Various FDA-approved injections have been promoted and prescribed to help people with muscular dystrophy. Some of these injections are Golodirsen, Viltolarsen, Casimersen, and Eteplirsen. Besides injections, prescription drugs can also control muscular dystrophy symptoms and slow down the progression.
- Muscle therapies: Physical therapy, speech therapy, and respiratory therapy are effective in improving and increasing muscle functions. Muscle therapy aims to help patients regain muscle flexibility and lower the risk of scoliosis and contractures, allowing them to handle their daily activities despite the disease progression.
- Surgeries & procedures: In some cases, people with DMD may encounter heart and lung problems. As a result, doctors may recommend necessary procedures to help correct, support, and manage complications of muscular dystrophy (scoliosis, breathing problems, heart problems, and swallowing difficulty). The surgeries could be ventilator placement, cardiac surgery, muscle shortening correction surgery, scoliosis surgery, and cataract surgery, combined with other medications for cardiac issues.
Despite being irreversible, children or people with muscular dystrophy can expect to live longer through advances in diagnosis and medical care. If you experience any signs of the listed muscular dystrophy symptoms, visit your healthcare providers as soon as possible for a proper treatment plan.
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